Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

40 LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. In these circumstances of weakness and humiliation, after elev- en years of arbitrary government, he resolved on calling another parliament. But that there might be no opportunity to form complaints against his administration, he fixed the time of meeting just before the time for the opening of the campaign. The parlia- ment, however; when assembled, gave no heed to the king's urgen- cy for an immediate supply of money ; but proceeded, as formerly, to the consideration of the public grievances. After a few days' debate, they were dissolved without having done any thing; and' the only result was that the necessities of the kingweremore em- barrassing, and the excitement of the nation deeper and more alarm- ing. The old course of illegal taxation and illegal punishment was pursued with renewed violence ; and matters were fast ripening for civil war. In this crisis it was, that the convocation of the clergy, which, accordingto immemorial custom, had been in session during the ses- sion of parliament, continued its proceedings by a doubtful author- ity, and enacted a new body of " constitutions and canons ecclesi- astical," the grand object of which was the more grievous oppres- sionofthe Puritans. One of these canons made it theduty of everyminister to read publicly, once in. three months, a certain prescribed declaration of the divine institution of absolute monar- chy. Another decreed not only excommunication, but a further punishment in the star chamber, against every person who should " import, print or disperse" any book written against thediscipline and government of the church of England. Another enjoined it on all 'public preachers to preach twice a year, "positively and plainly, that the rites and ceremonies of the church ofEngland are lawful, and that it is the duty of all people toconform to them." But the most obnoxious'of thesecanons was that which prescribed an oath to be taken by all ecclesiastical persons, on pain first of suspension, and, after two months, of deprivation. Those who received this oath swore not only that they approved the doctrine, discipline and government established in the church of England, but that theynever would consent to any alteration. The de- sign was, to cast out and silence every minister in the kingdom, who entertained any scruple in regard to the perfection of the church as it was then constituted and governed. But the mad zeal of those who framed and imposed this test defeated its own purpose, and strengthened . instead of suppressing the cause of the Puritans. One clauseofthe oath was as follows " Nor will I give my consent to alter the government ofthis church by archbishops, bishops, deacons and archdeacons, etc., as itstands nowestablished, andby right ought to stand." From the et cetera in this clause, the oath was denominated the Et ceteraoath. It wakened a new and